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  Girls Can Tell  
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This album has become somewhat of an in-joke within the lairs of EvilSponge. It's been passed around and mentioned as often as any release of the last couple of years, and we're all telling each other how "this is your kind of stuff, you should review it." Yet no one has been able to muster up the gumption to actually write the review. Oh, sure, Silvergeek went off and listed it on his 2001 best-of list, but he listed some thirty odd other albums that he hasn't reviewed either, so that doesn't count.

PostLibyan passed Girls Can Tell on to me, with the note, "This is really smooth pop. I think you might like it. You should review it." And so it came to pass that Spoon took up semi-permanent residence in the stack of CDs that sit next to my disc changer, in the bottom cabinet space of my spiffy new entertainment center. And there it sat.

Time passed. Somewhere, children were born. Somewhere, the elderly passed on into the shadow country. And Spoon sat idle in the stacks, never getting filed back into the shelves (a sure sign that I have given up on listening to something, or that Mrs. M. decided to clean some clutter), but never quite making it into the listening rotation either. Yeah, I'd put it in every now and then, and try to listen to it, but it never felt right. It always came across as if I were listening to something because I needed to review it rather than listening to something and thinking, "Wow, I should review this." It was like homework.

Pop music shouldn't be like homework. Ever.

And then Mrs. M. would come along and say, "Hey, I want to listen to Azure Ray. What do you want me to take out?"

"Um, that Spoon album, I guess."

"Where's the cover?"

"It's there in the 'need-to-listen-to' stack."

This exchange evolved down to a much more precise and shortened format, eventually:

Mrs. M.: "I want to listen to music. Where's that damned Spoon cover?"

It is thusly that I ceased to even think of Girls Can Tell as an actual release, and just a placeholder for something that exists in the periphery of my vision, lacking the power to hold my glance for any real time. It is also thusly that I mentally renamed it That Damned Spoon Album.

Anyway, the other day I was sitting around finishing up a review of Weezer's latest album, and I noticed That Damned Spoon Album sitting conveniently near the changer. And lo! There was an empty space in the table. And hark! The large, playful cat of Fortune did attack the small, toy mouse of Destiny, and roll and tumble across the floor into the CD stack of Purgatory, and verily did That Damned Spoon Album fall, literally, into my lap.

Signs and portents like these are best not left unheeded.

So I put it in. And I listened. Then I got up and made me a sandwich. A lovely grilled ham and cheese on cracked wheat, with crisp lettuce and freshly sliced tomatoes, and just a touch of spicy mustard, but no mayo. And I opened some Pringles and had some of those too.

It was still playing as I meandered back through the living room to sit down to eat. It was slightly catchy, even. I did a little "at home by myself with a spiffy keen sandwich dance." I ate. I got up to wash the dishes. It was still playing. I did a small, foot-shaking sort of dance while loading up the dishwasher.

It was almost a toe-tapping good time. Almost.

I thought to myself, "Man, I really liked Radio, Radio. Elvis was cool back then." Then I stopped and wondered why I was listening to late era Elvis Costello anyway. Sure, I own Mighty Like a Rose, but I didn't remember thinking I should listen to it.

But I wasn't listening to Elvis.

At this point, it all hit me at once. That Damned Spoon Album, also known as Girls Can Tell, is the illegitimate offspring of late-era Elvis Costello and some unnamed indie rock mother. It is, I tell you, it is! It's subtly catchy, yet lacks the hooks needed to really dig into your psyche. It is slickly, even over-slickly produced, to the point of having a shiny coat of polyurethane. It's harmless, yet utterly bland, yet still everyone insists that the band is great. It has hyper-intellectualized lyrics, delivered by a voice certain of nothing so much as his own importance in the grand scheme of Important Songwriters, lyrics that have the poetic kick of a bait ball.

Yet it's catchy, and it makes your toes dance.

I wonder if Spoon ever wrote a song as great as Radio, Radio. That would explain a lot of the press they've received for this album. Of course, if it were up to me, I'd just put in Elvis's greatest hits, volume one, and program Radio, Radio to play over and over again. Because that is a great song, and while Girls (Girls Girls) Can Tell might be catchy at times, it certainly doesn't have a song that great on it.

Related Links:
  Spoon on tour for Girls Can Tell.  

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